When Asha was just 13 years old, her parents moved away, so she had to move in with her aunts in Tanzania. Because her aunts wouldn’t pay her school fees, she had to drop out of school. That same year, she was forced to marry an abusive man in exchange for cows. He beat her daily and often withheld food. She found out she was pregnant and felt like she lost all hope to continue her education.
17-year-old Aminatta from Sierra Leone has a one-year-old daughter. She became pregnant during the Ebola emergency last year when schools were closed and children stayed at home. Once school reopened, the government banned 14,000 girls from returning because they were pregnant.
Pregnant and no longer in school, Aminatta was kicked out of her home. She and her boyfriend struggled to afford one meal per day and found it difficult to find a place to sleep at night. As a result she would expose her unborn baby to many risks. Despite her difficult circumstances, Aminatta still wants to go back to school and become a lawyer.
Campaigning for Girls
The world has made tremendous progress for children. But globally, girls like Asha and Aminatta continue to face barriers to progress because they are girls. In Tanzania, almost two in five girls are married for the 18th birthday and 23% of girls aged 15-19 have children or are pregnant. In Sierra Leone, teenage girls account for 34% of all pregnancies and 40% of maternal deaths. And teenage pregnancy has been identified as the second most prevalent child abuse practice in Sierra Leone.
This is why our new campaign, Every Last Child, has a focus on girls, as a key group of children who face systematic barriers to surviving and learning. Progress for children isn’t possible without progress for girls, and progress for girls is one of the soundest investments in the future. Save the Children believes that girls have the right to a life free from violence, to an equal education and to health.
At Women Deliver 2016, we will be sharing the stories of girls who have been excluded because of their gender. We’re campaigning for girls like Asha and Aminatta, so they are able to complete their education instead of becoming mothers before they’re ready.
We will also share the stories of these girls on social media, using the hashtags #EveryLastChild and #WD2016, and we encourage you to participate in this conversation with us.
Join us as we stand with Asha and Aminatta. Together we can reach every last child and catalyse revolutionary shifts in the lives of women and girls.